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"Who was the mother of Bob?"

The realm of fanfiction is an interesting place. Where canon may be scant with details, fans of a work can take up the task of filling in perceived holes in a story. This may include creating their own characters to flesh out a character's lineage or coming up with reasons why certain ones behave as they do. After all, what if the story never bothers to tell us who the parents of the protagonist were? Or the deal behind that guy with the cool name who's always mentioned but never shown? If one of these fan works becomes popular enough, it will spread across the community and its ideas become an accepted fact of the show/book/movie's lore. Or mocked, due to the quality of the fic. Either way, these questions raised by the canon work which the fans latched onto haven't been answered and never will be, so fans are free to continue playing with them... right?

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Outdated by Canon is when fan works (and the theories backing them) are Jossed by revelations or events in the canon product; specifically in regards to characterization. For example, a fanfic writer might decide that Bob's unseen mother is a Retired Badass who instilled and promoted Bob's own thirst for adventure. This fanfic becomes popular and soon the entire fandom chooses this as their fanon, with other fanfics following suit. Various stories are made about Bob's mom teaching him how to fight, or giving him hero advice, or even coming out of retirement to help Bob and his friends stop the Big Bad. Then several installments later, when the creators of the canon work finally take us to Bob's childhood home to meet his mom, it turns out she's an overprotective woman who's terrified of even leaving her house. These fan works are now outdated pieces of media that have been entirely discredited, leaving future fans who find them wondering why an old fic they just stumbled upon has Bob's mom threatening to punch out an eldritch abomination instead of fainting at the sight of one.

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The earlier the fanwork was made in the life of the work that inspired it, the more likely it will be hit by this trope: after all, the beginning of a work is when the audience has the least understanding of the world they've been presented with, increasing the chance of early theories being jossed.

Also a specific form of Canon Foreigner, O.C. Stand-in, and potentially Hilarious in Hindsight. Some fans may invoke Better Than Canon and Fanon Discontinuity, especially if one specific character interpretation was popular with the community because that version was well-written or served as great eye-candy. Often the result of an Unknown Character finally getting revealed.

This is only a trope applicable to fan works, as any licensed examples fall into the Canon Discontinuity or What If? scenarios. Part of Time Marches On. See also Resolved Noodle Incident. Contrast Ascended Fanon or I Knew It!, where the popular fanfic interpretation ends up being part of canon either because of its popularity with fans or because that was always the plan.

For non-specific examples of when the official work outdates the fan work, see Jossed.

Spoilers for the source material are unmarked, as we need to explain how the fan works are outdated.


Examples: (Sorted by source material)

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • One Accel World fanfic, which has since been deleted, had Haru encounter Kuroyukihime (aka Black Lotus)'s parent (the one who installed Brain Burst on her, which requires a close real life relationship), and the person in question is male. It ultimately turns out that Kuroyukihime's canon parent is White Cosmos, her older sister. It's also worth noting that Haru had correctly suspected that Kuroyukihime's parent was a girl as far back as Volume 2 of the light novel.
  • Code Geass: In Of Monsters and Men, Nunnally is blind and keeps her Eyes Always Shut of her own free will. The anime later confirmed that she's only blind because her eyes can't open. Her vision itself is fine.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball Multiverse has enough relevancy to have its own page.
    • The concept of another android was quite popular with some fanworks, with Android 21. In Bringer of Death, Android 21 is an energy absorbing android Doctor Gero created just in case due to the story events, described as a giant man with it pronouns. Dragon Ball Fighter Z would introduce Android 21, a female bio-android made with the cells of every character lacking the energy absorption powers, including the Eldritch Abomination Majin Buu. As such, she is a Hot Scientist that can shapeshift in a Cute Monster Girl form with a love for sweets, and is directly based on the mother of Doctor Gero's son, being a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
    • Dragon Ball Zero (Toyble): Alongside taking elements of the movies and The Father of Goku (Which as of this writing, is in canon limbo), this doujinshi presents Raditz meeting Vegeta and Nappa after the destruction of Planet Vegeta and the death of his squad. Further material released in the 2010's would show Raditz was a member of Vegeta's squad from day one, and they survived because Vegeta ignored Freeza's order. Nappa and Vegeta's reaction to Planet Vegeta's destruction likewise is outdated. In the doujinshi, they laughed about it very sadistically after hearing about it. In Broly? Nappa is visibly horrified while Vegeta is more indifferent about not being able to become the new king.
  • Girls und Panzer
    • In Strange Waters, which was written before the last two episodes of the anime aired, has the final match end differently, with Kuromorimine's flag tank being taken down after being exposed, instead of Miho defeating Maho in a tank duel. The fic also portrays Oarai's tank crews, apart from Anglerfish, as being significantly less competent than they became by the end of the anime.
    • Boys Und Sensha Do
      • The fic seems to imply that the high school tankers' only way to continue tankery after high school is to enter the Self-Defense force and study under Shiho. Naturally, the film's showing university-level tankery teams and other tankery houses show that the Nishizumi school isn't the only choice.
      • There's also Miho's decision to demote Momo from deputy commander after her poor performance against Dalian while filling in for Miho during the latter's recovery. While reasonable, the decision eventually ends up being at odds with how in Das Finale, Momo is made commander in an attempt to help her get into Yuzu and Anzu's university.
  • While it was part of a parody of Jojos Bizarre Adventure made by Clamp, Clamp in Wonderland (released in 1994) is the oldest most well known piece of fiction to talk about Jotaro Kujo's offspring. In it, Jotaro and Kakyoin have a son which is basically a slender version of Jotaro named Jota (sometimes translated as Jouta) Kujo, with his own stand that Jotaro calls "Charmy Green" after green soap. Ten years later Jota/Jouta would later inexplicably grow to be a high schooler to have adventures with Josuke Higashikata, the part 4 Jojo, while having some resentment over his workaholic father. Then in the 2000's, Jotaro's daughter Jolyne Cujoh (whose mother appears to be a normal, previously unmentioned non-Stand using woman) would appear, and she and her stand are nothing like Jotaro's... but she does have resentment over Jotaro's absence and her stand has similar powers to Hierophant Green, Kakyoin's stand. Let's just say that the canon vs. doujin camps lead to some very hotheaded Ship-to-Ship Combat in fandom circles, and leave it to that.
  • My Hero Academia
    • The name of the missing eldest Todoroki sibling was widely speculated, especially after theories emerged that he became the villain Dabi. Karma in Retrograde ended up naming him Ryouta. The Pro Hero arc ended up settling on Touya.
    • In the third chapter of Coyote, Aizawa gets taken to task for expelling the entirety of his class last year, and is informed that while some of the luckier ones were able to transfer to other schools, others dropped out, became villains or were Driven to Suicide. Aizawa is accused of being a teacher who is too lazy to teach anyone who isn't talented enough to succeed on their own (whose success will make him look better), and is put on unpaid leave. In canon, it turns out that Aizawa actually re-enrolled the expelled students, hoping to give them a wake-up call that will inspire them to improve. As such, the students from last year's Class 1-A are now second-years at U.A., and are grateful to Aizawa.
  • Naruto:
    • The Sasuke/Sakura doujinshi Hide and Seek has Sakura's mother looking very much like an older version of Sakura. The non-canon movie Road to Ninja later revealed Mebuki's design (and Sakura actually gets her pink hair from her dad).
    • Shiruka yo is the oldest Naruto fic on Fan Fiction Dot Net, dating back to 2001 (predating even the anime). It depicts Itachi having tried to strangle Sasuke during the Uchiha massacre. Not only is this off because it was later shown that Itachi didn't lay a finger on Sasuke, but it's also completely out-of-character for Itachi.
    • Team 8 started in 2006, so Itachi is intentionally written in the way he was first portrayed, as having killed his own clan merely for power. This also might be a justified instance due to the Alternate Universe nature of the fic.
    • Doujinshi like After the War which were made before the ending but were set in the aftermath of the Fourth Shinobi World War, showed Tsunade still being the Hokage, when in Canon she stepped down immediately after it, passing the mantle to Kakashi.
Daddy's Little Girl from 2008 is an example, and it also depicts Sasuke's daughter being named "Mikoto" after his mother rather than "Sarada."
  • Pokémon: The Story Of Silver Ketchum was written between the releases of Red and Blue and Gold and Silver. This leads to elements such as pre-evolutions and evolutions that don't exist, "Pikablu" (Marill) being an Electric/Normal type, and moves that aren't canon.

    Film — Animated 

    Literature 
  • Harry Potter:
    • Before Order of the Phoenix came out, most everyone assumed that Ginny Weasley's given name was Virginia (for a notable example, see The Very Secret Diary). Rowling announced in an interview that Ginny's name is actually Ginevra, and this was later written into the final book, but many volumes of Virginia fanfic still lurk in the old corners of the fandom.
    • Similarly, fans tended to assume that Teddy Lupin's first name was "Theodore," but it was eventually revealed to be "Edward."
    • Pictured above is Blaise Zabini, a popular O.C. Stand-in since the first book. However, before the sixth book, no details outside of his name were known. Therefore, a lot of fanfics written before Half-Blood Prince depict him differently than his canon appearance and with a different personality. (Blaise was a popular candidate for the Token Good Teammate of Slytherin, but in the book he's shown to share Malfoy's elitist views.) Especially noticeable since, as Blaise can be a female name in some regions of the world, part of the fanfics depict him as a girl. A selection of stories with Zabini written before his characterization was fleshed out appear here, but here is an extract from one of these, His Secret, which doesn't mix with the above picture.
    ''He had dark curly hair that he got from his father's side of the family, but had been sorted into Slytherin because his mother's side has been there for generations.
  • The long gap between the release of the ninth and tenth Haruhi Suzumiya light novels naturally encouraged this, particularly since the ninth novel ended on a Cliffhanger:
    • For the first nine light novels, the only time anyone’s parents are ever mentioned is Kyon making an offhand reference to his mother, who never appears herself. In addition, the long gap between the release of the ninth and tenth novels inspired quite a volume of fanfiction, one of which is Meet The Suzumiyas, in which Kyon winds up living with Haruhi, and has to deal with her parents: her father, Oruki, is an Overprotective Dad with a Hair-Trigger Temper, and her mother, Naru, is a Cloudcuckoolander and Supreme Chef—essentially, Haruhi’s character traits are split between her parents instead of the reverse. This fanfic was quite popular and other authors came to use this interpretation of Haruhi’s parents and even their names, and it might have ended there were it not for Haruhi’s briefly mentioning her mother in the tenth book. From her description, she is a career woman who can’t cook, meaning that Naru, at least, is totally inaccurate.
    • More significantly, novel nine has a scene in which Kyon receives a phone call from a girl he doesn’t know, but she calls him “senpai” and talks as though she knows him, before hanging up in frustration. The fanfic Kyon: Big Damn Hero wasted no time in giving her a name (Michikyuu Kanae) and making her a slider with a Dark and Troubled Past who joins the SOS Brigade and interacts normally with the other characters. When book ten was actually released, it turned out that the girl is named Watahashi Yasumi and isn’t a slider at all, or even a person. She is nothing more than a creation of Haruhi’s subconscious.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Momoxtoshiro has written several fanfics, including The Champion And The Singer and Camellias, that depict Weiss' father as far nicer and more loving than he is in canon.
    • The 2014 oneshot Ivory Bones revolves around Weiss' abusive home life. It depicts her father as more hands-on abusive, while in canon Jacques' abuse is primarily emotional. Weiss also lacks her older sister Winter or her younger brother Whitley. On a more subtle note, it's implied that Blake has a Dark and Troubled Past involving her parents. In canon, Blake's parents are just fine and her issues mainly start after she ran off to join the White Fang.
    • In My Huntsman Academia, the author said that Salem would be an Eldritch Abomination whose visage has driven men to madness (specifically mentioning Tyrian Callows) and that the Grimm are her eyes and ears. That she is something from beyond time and space, something incomprehensible. This was outdated by Volume 6 of canon RWBY, which reveals her backstory to be far different. The author has confirmed that it doesn't matter, though, as he's sticking with his interpretation for consistency's sake.
    • White Noise was written before Volume 4 revealed that Weiss' father was abusive. Its version of Jacques is much kinder than in canon.
    • Recovery is a take on Volume 4 written that started a few days before the first episode. It contains various differences, such as a lack of Whitley in early chapters (due to the fact he wasn't references in the previous volumes) and Yang's prosthetic requiring surgery.
    • Being a fic run mostly on comedy, Weiss Reacts naturally has this, especially with the Schnee family (Winter being more... mild-mannered than canon, Papa Schnee being a nice father, and Grandpa Schnee being the villainous one when it's actually inverted in canon).
    • Service with a Smile:
      • Adam Taurus is an Adaptational Nice Guy, which was an intentional change, but it was done before Adam went completely psycho in volume 6. The author admits he probably wouldn't have bothered making him nice if he had known. Adam is also able to take off his mask and blend in, while in canon there's a large brand over his left eye.
      • Adam tells Blake that no one in the White Fang really noticed when she disappeared; she wasn't particularly high-ranking, and those who remembered her just assumed she died on a mission. Canon soon revealed that not only was she a high-ranking member of Adam's White Fang, but she was the daughter of the original founder. Everyone noticed when she disappeared.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The fan-comic Alternate History depicts the Fire Lord as a male-only position. Azula needs to produce a male heir but keeps having daughters. It was later revealed that the position of "Fire Lord" is unisex.
  • The Loud House:
    • The fanfic What is a Person Worth? has Mr. Santiago (Bobby and Ronnie Anne's father) as a character. The fic began before episodes like "Shell Shock" and "The Loudest Mission: Relative Chaos" made it clear that he is no longer around in the show itself. In the final chapter, the author tried to correct this error by having the character die in a car crash, going with the assumption that he was dead in the show. And then this in turn became outdated when a press release confirmed that Mr. Santiago is in fact alive and well in the show, but just living and working in Peru, away from his wife and children.
    • The fic "The Loudest Mission: Relative Chaos" has the Santiago's still living in Royal Woods rather than move to another city like they did in the aforementioned episode.
    • A similar situation can be found in Requiem for a Loud, in which Bobby and Ronnie Anne's mother has passed away two years before the story, and their father is now their sole parent. This part of the story was written before it became clear that in the show itself, Mrs. Santiago is alive and raising the two kids alone while her husband is away.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The plot of fanfic Dash's New Mom centers around Rainbow Dash's widower father getting a new girlfriend, and Rainbow's reaction to the event. After the fanfic's completion, "Parental Glideance" revealed that both of Rainbow's parents were still alive.
    • Claro de Luna was written prior to "Luna Eclipsed" and depicts Luna as a slightly shy, adorkable mare with a short mane (like her season 1 design). It also features ponies that age like actual horses instead of comparable to humans.
    • Much like Claro De Luna above, Progress uses Luna's design from the pilot and depicts her as an adorkable Fish out of Temporal Water.
    • Strangers features an older Sweetie Belle. It predates Sweetie getting her Cutie Mark and thus it uses her G3 mark instead of her canon G4 one.
    • Lullaby for a Princess depicts Celestia versus Nightmare Moon. It was animated prior to the official version and deviates in many manners. For example, Celestia had a pink mane in the animation that changed colours upon using the Elements of Harmony, but in canon Celestia had her current mane even back then. The fight is also more action packed and dramatic than the official portrayal. Celestia breaks out in tears at the end of the battle. In canon, Celestia does shed tears but it's a far more subdued reaction than in Lullaby for a Princess.
    • The Moon Rises depicts Starswirl as being around during the Nightmare Moon incident. Later episodes revealed that he was long gone by then.
    • Bubbles depicts Derpy Hooves as developmentally and physically impaired. Her later canon characterization has her as a ditz with some vision impairments due to a lazy eye.
    • Why Am I Crying? was written prior to season 5 episode "Crusaders of The Lost Mark" and so contradicts that episode and some others, besides Diamond Tiara not dying before that season and surviving into adulthood:
      • Diamond Tiara's mother is revealed to be dead having passed away due to complications with the pregnancy of Diamond Tiara's little brother. In canon, Diamond Tiara is an only child and her mother, Spoiled Rich, was revealed to be very much alive and unfortunately nowhere as nice as Diamond Tiara's mother in the story was implied to be.
      • The Cutie Mark Crusaders are implied to have gained their Cutie Marks separately (it is mentioned Scootaloo got hers last). In canon, the Crusaders gained their marks at the same time.
      • Diamond Tiara's Cutie Mark is explained to represent a desire to be like her mom - a model. In canon, Spoiled Rich is not a model and the Cutie Mark was revealed to represent Diamond Tiara's skill of leadership.
      • The fic shows that Scootaloo lives with her father who is divorced from his wife. Season 9 episode "The Last Crusade" revealed that Scootaloo's parents have been away traveling and are still together.
      • The final chapter, where the CMC are adults, has a future version of Ponyville that has Twilight still living there. In the show's Grand Finale, Twilight returned to live in Canterlot while the CMC were still children.
    • In Princess Trixie Sparkle it is revealed that Starswirl the Bearded turned into and is now trapped as the Tree of Harmony. While season 7 did reveal a connection between Starswirl and the Tree, he seeded it (with the other Pillars of Equestria) rather than morph into it. He was, however, trapped in Limbo afterward.
    • Times Fades has an elderly Spike recounting the lives of the Mane Six and himself up to their deaths. It came out around the time of seasons 6 and 7 and so contradicts those seasons and the Grand Finale in a few ways:
      • None of Spike's lanky adult forms resemble his beefy adult form in canon.
      • Twilight remains in her normal body proportions. The Distant Finale shows her grown into Princess Celestia's proportions.
      • The Changelings war with Equestria. In canon, they reform and become allies before any such conflict. They also get new forms.
      • Twilight becomes ruler of Equestria after Changeling impostors kill Celestia and Luna. In canon, Twilight became ruler after the Princesses retired.
      • Queen Chrysalis's final fate involves her being murdered. In canon, her final fate was to be turned to stone.
      • Prior to becoming Captain of the Wonderbolts, Rainbow Dash loses a wing during the war with the Changelings and is forced to wear a metal one for the rest of her life. While the fic predicted that Dash would join the Bolts eventually become Captain, she had both wings intact as of the Grand Finale.
    • Kindness's Reward has this in several fashions:
      • The story predates the IDW comics canonizing that Trixie grew up with a single mother. Kindness's Reward depicts Trixie as growing in an orphanage until she ran away.
      • The story revolves around Fluttershy taking in a deathly ill Trixie. Later episodes confirm that Fluttershy's medical skills apply only to woodland animals, not ponies.
      • The plot begins with Trixie being lost in the Everfree Forest for weeks. The series later showed that Trixie actually went drifting and ended up working on the Pie's farm for a while.
    • 2015's When the Bough Breaks revolves around Cadance and Shining Armor having a stillborn pegasus son. They would later canonically have an alicorn daughter.
  • The webcomic Grim Tales from Down Below, a crossover series between many cartoons created Chi: the daughter of Aku from Samurai Jack. Born from him thanks to Voluntary Shapeshifting, she's a Cute Monster Girl with lesbian undertones (due to Author Appeal) that can be described as Aku as a cute girl, bringing the best out of him. In 2017, Samurai Jack returned for one more season, featuring Ashi, the actual daughter of Aku: a Dark Action Girl born as a member of the Daughters of Aku, a team of assassins who served an Aku-worshiping cult and Jack's eventual Love Interest. And while she is revealed to be Aku's literal daughter, she is not a Daddy's Little Villain, as he wasn't even aware she existed and both see each other as enemies. And Aku didn't give birth to anyone.
  • The OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes fanfic series simply known as the Perfect AU was subject to this multiple times. Before said fanfic series gained its name, it referred to Perfect KO as Kaio, since his name had not yet been confirmed in the show and the author considered it to be a good compromise - the author later went back and corrected this. His portrayal is also slightly different from the show's in general. Later on, this came up again due to the show having not yet clarified the connection between Laserblast, Shadowy Figure and Professor Venomous; in the fic, Shadowy Figure is Laserblast's Superpowered Evil Side (and Laserblast had no energy-draining ability; Shadowy is his non-laser "power") who pulled a Split-Personality Takeover when the donut shop exploded, and Laserblast did, in a sense, die in that explosion (since only Shadowy remains). Venomous, meanwhile, is an entirely separate person. In the show, Laserblast was physically unaffected by the explosion, and merely chose to become a villain around that time, Professor Venomous is Laserblast after his Face–Heel Turn, and Shadowy Figure is his alter ego he sometimes turns into, who eventually tries to permanently seize control of his body much later. Additionally, in the fic Carol actually more-or-less knows what happened to Laserblast.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Magna Clades: The fic was made during the middle of the show's first season. It features significant divergences from canon, like the Gems being from an alternate universe named Mineralis and having males of their kind.
    • Crystal Gem Academy portrays "Pink Diamond" as simply being the title of Rose Quartz. Later events in the show's canon make it clear that it's the other way around, with "Rose Quartz" being an alias that Pink Diamond used.
    • In That Which Surrounds, there is no acknowledgement of Rose being Pink Diamond. More blatantly, when Steven dies, Rose reforms — a far cry from canon's "SHE'S GONE!" scene, which confirmed that even when separated from Steven, his mother's gem is still his and only manifests a hard light version of Steven rather than her.
  • The Voltron: Legendary Defender fanfic series Voltron Duality gave Pidge and Matt's mother the name Karen, before Word of God revealed that her name was Colleen.

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